• Germany's news in English
 
Louvre art exhibition raises German hackles
Photo: DPA

Louvre art exhibition raises German hackles

Published: 16 Apr 2013 07:08 GMT+02:00

The German media has called the issue a "cultural-political scandal." The exhibition, which covers art from 1800 to 1939 – with works of painters like Caspar David Friedrich and Max Beckmann to a clip film by Third Reich director Leni Reifenstahl – has been accused of portraying a "German Sonderweg" through its art.

Click to see our photo gallery

The Sonderweg is a controversial theory which says that Germany developed distinctively differently from other western nations, which led directly to the birth and rise of National Socialism in the country.

German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung accused the French museum of "weaving its own version of Germany's history," a version that "endorses all the clichés of a romantically-unknown, dangerous and dark neighbouring country."

"We are completely surprised and taken aback by the intensity of the attack on the exhibition," said the museum's management in a statement.

The exhibition, titled "De l’Allemagne, 1800-1939. German Thought and Painting, from Friedrich to Beckmann" and featuring 200 works of art, aims at shedding light on this era of German art for the French public.

"Through art, we will understand our German friends better", French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault had commented at the exhibition inauguration at the end of March.

People who criticised the exhibition referred to comments made by Andreas Beyer, co-curator of the exhibition and Director of the German Centre for the History of Art in Paris. Beyer complained that the discourse on the project was becoming "increasingly national" and that the Louvre is showing "a teleologically oriented history of the development of Germany" in the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

Most people are asking why Beyer didn't distance himself from the exhibition if it was falsely interpreted.

"We are dumbfounded. Beyer was there for all the previews, was given all the documents to read and contributed to the catalogue," said the museum's management.

The press-material states that the exhibition was initiated by the German Centre for the History of Art in Paris. It was, however, organized by the Louvre. Beyer is said to have approached the museum with a project originally meant to display about 30 works of art about Weimar in the 19th century.

"We wanted to have a big German exhibition related to art in the 19th century which is not well known in France," said the museum authorities. "It is a joint scientific collaboration which is reflected in the catalogue and in the colloquia."

Beyer had remained reserved in his comments before the opening. He is said to have believed that even though everything hadn't gone according to the way he had imagined, the quality of the pieces would be convincing enough.

"We want to show that the German art of the 19th century is not burdened by theory, that it did not pursue a path to the Sonderweg, but that it is simply just happens to be different," Beyer had said at the time.

Regardless of the dispute, the exhibition has caught on very well with the French. According to the museum, it has seen about 3,400 visitors daily in its first two weeks. This is much more than what was expected, making the exhibition one of the most visited in the Louvre's history. The exhibition runs till June 24th.

DPA/The Local/mb

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement
Demonstrators protest against PEGIDA. Photo: DPA

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement

Business leaders, the political class and average Germans are pushing back against a growing anti-immigrant movement, saying it threatens the values and image the country fought hard to establish since the war. READ  

German president urges refugee compassion
Photo: DPA

German president urges refugee compassion

Germany's president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement. READ  

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon
A female homing pigeon. Photo: DPA

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon

A breeder in Düsseldorf has offered a €10,000 reward after thieves stole a homing pigeon worth €150,000 from his aviary. READ  

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit
The vestibule of the Schloss Charlottenburg, which reopens on Boxing Day Photo: DPA

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit

The royal palace of Fredrick the Great in Berlin is to fully reopen to visitors on Boxing Day after a 4.5 million euro refit. READ  

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad
Bertolt Brecht and his salad. Photo: DPA

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad

Bertolt Brecht's statue in front of the Berliner Ensemble theatre was splattered with potato salad by pranksters early on Tuesday morning, in a protest against supposed gentrification of the capital by wealthy southerners. READ  

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire
The ferris wheel at Alexa Christmas Market where a man fell to his death last week Photo: DPA

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire

A blaze at one of Berlin's biggest Christmas markets has caused locals to wonder if the place is cursed. READ  

JobTalk Germany: Entrepreneur series
'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'
Taulia co-founder Bertram Meyer. Photo: DPA

'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'

In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Bertram Meyer, one of the four German co-founders of Taulia. READ  

Terror alert 'higher than in decades'
A police armed response unit (SEK) training in North Rhine-Westphalia in August. Photo: DPA

Terror alert 'higher than in decades'

A leaked government report shows that security authorities believe the threat of a terrorist attack in Germany is higher than at any time since the late 1970s. READ  

Wet, windy, stormy Christmas in store
Nobody's dreaming of a wet Christmas Photo: DPA

Wet, windy, stormy Christmas in store

Those hoping for a traditional white Christmas in Germany are going to be disappointed, with weathermen saying Tuesday the current wet, windy and stormy weather is set to stay. READ  

Merkel to have a chilly Ukraine Christmas
President Poroschenko of Ukraine greeting soldiers in a tank on December 6th. Photo: DPA

Merkel to have a chilly Ukraine Christmas

Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany agreed on new peace talks this week on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko announced on Monday evening. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,207
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd